Reality Check

Written by The Mom

Life has been kicking us in the rear lately, financially. It’s been a cloud of stress. An engineer will be coming soon to tell us how to fix the cracks opening up between our floor and walls. Maybe it’ll be the cost of gutters, or it might be 20k for post-tension slabs to lift the corner of our house back up. We aren’t sure yet. We’ve had several home repairs, termites, two floods, two hospital trips this year (fortunately quick and easy ones!), car repairs, health bills, etc… normal life with three kids, an old house, and one income.

We’ve budgeted, cut expenses, talked about the husband getting a second job, or me getting a part-time job… Whatever we can do to pay the bills and still have one of us always home with the kids, which is a priority for us.

We eventually made the decision to pull out retirement savings money to use to pay off some debt which will increase our monthly income. Today the money came through and we paid off our van in full. It was kind of scary and weird to make a payment that big. After we paid it off I decided to celebrate by getting some lunch out with the kids, since we’ve been careful about eating at home. As I was driving, it dawned on me… we OWN this van!! It’s a good feeling. We’ve had a car payment of some type almost since the beginning of our marriage, and now we own two vehicles in full. 

As I was headed to the bakery drive-through I saw a young guy holding a sign: “Hungry, anything will help”. He was maybe 19. I bought an extra kid’s meal for him. I admit I don’t often, if ever, do that. For some reason it’s way out of my comfort zone but something about him really prodded me and I wanted to help. I’m really introverted and the idea of reaching out to a stranger in a vulnerable situation makes me nervous and uncomfortable. I rolled down my window and asked if he was hungry. He said yes. I was shaking when I handed him the food.

He was so grateful. Up close, he looked thin and tired and hot and hungry. It’s over 100 degrees out today. He was missing a front tooth, or he had a big gap between his teeth… I can’t remember exactly. I gave him a giant iced water and the kid’s meal: a grilled cheese sandwich, grapes, cookie, and a chocolate milk. He looked me in the eye. I looked back at him and wished him luck. He nodded and said, “God bless you.”

As we drove away, Miss C was full of questions. She wondered why he “bought our lunch”, why he didn’t buy his own lunch, if other people were giving him food, and why we did. I explained as best I could: Maybe some people are really busy today. Some people might not have food in their car to give today. Some people might not have the money today to buy him food.

But today, we did. Today he needed lunch, and we were able to give it.

And that was all. We drove away in our paid-off van, back to our house that needs repairs, but it’s a roof over our heads, it’s a home. He went back to holding up his sign on the street corner because there’s still dinner today.

She asked, “But Mommy, what about OUR lunch? What will WE eat?” And I was thankful that I could say, “You don’t need to worry about what you’ll be eating for lunch. Mommy and daddy always take care of you guys.”

While there may be days when we are crossing our fingers that payday comes before such-and-such-a-bill comes out, we aren’t wondering where our next meal will come from. Our kids are happy and thriving and have everything they need.

It was a good reminder for me. I’m grateful for these beautiful, trusting eyes that put things into perspective for me. They’re little and I still want to protect them from the scary, sad things in this world. I’m glad that I can. I hope I can teach them not to be afraid to push out of their comfort zone to help someone, even if it feels like it’s not enough.



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